Trigger warning! Mature content below
For centuries women have been made to feel as if they’re objects and distractions to men. Sparking the conversation of rape culture in our modern lives is necessary to move forward as a society. Women ages 18-24 are more likely to be a victim of sexual assault and rape. As we know, these are the ages of college students. An article from RAINN.org expresses how among graduates, 9.7% of women and 2.5% of men experience rape or sexual assault through force or violence. This is extremely unacceptable and needs to be addressed in order to ensure the safety of students and progression of society.
Women throughout the ages have been taught that their bodies are inappropriate and needed to be covered. Dress codes and other restrictions on women’s bodies make them feel as if their bodies are some secret that’s not allowed to be revealed. When it’s normalized that a man should only focus on the woman’s exposed body part, it’s hard for the girl to learn and be comfortable in class. The stigma around skirts, tank-tops, and other revealing clothing pieces makes the girl feel like she is being treated differently or labeled just because of the clothing she is wearing. Some might argue that if the girl doesn’t want to be labeled, then she shouldn’t wear the revealing clothing. That is extremely wrong and needs to be addressed. Confidence doesn’t equal consent for them to objectify her. The girl should wear what makes her feel confident and beautiful. We should teach boys to respect that and not sexualize the young girl just because she is wearing a skirt or a tight shirt.
As a young girl in college there is looming fear that at night someone will come hurt you. They should be aware of the dangers of walking at night on college campuses but it should not be normalized. The first thought that crosses their minds is if they are going to be safe walking home. Although there are lights in certain areas, that does not mean they are automatically safe. In an interview with Chloe Shepherd, I asked how she felt about walking around at night alone or with a group of girls. She said, “I NEVER walk alone at night. I’m very scared to. I don’t even feel comfortable at night when I’m with a group of girls because you just never know.” It’s necessary to be informed and aware of the things that could happen. But it is not right to write off the actions of sick young men with “boys will be boys.” It is disregarding the fact that young white boys should be held responsible for putting
their victims through that trauma. Frankly, it’s disgusting and extremely detrimental to the progress we are aiming to make in society.
The normalization of treating women differently than men in school is absolutely unacceptable. The dress code that most schools put in place is ridiculous. They are putting restrictions on a young girl’s body because it’s “distracting” to the boys. Maybe we should teach them to be respectful and not over sexualize the girls. Of course this is just a suggestion because it isn’t like the male authority figures of the educational system actually listen to young women. In STEM programs, the ratio of boys to girls is insane. It’s been shoved into the mind of young women that they do not belong in a predominantly male dominated class. When they are in the class they’re looked down upon and treated as an outsider or as if they do not belong. The teacher/students treat them as if they do not know what they’re doing and they don’t have the brain capacity to genuinely understand the concepts. In a study done by Ingo E. Isphording and Pamela Qendrai for IZA on the gender differences in student dropout in STEM, they state, “In STEM, dropout is in general higher, with female students displaying a 23 percent higher dropout rate than their male counterparts.” It’s intimidating to be in a predominantly male class. They poke at you and critique every move you make.
Today we see the trend of under reporting sexual assault on college campuses. When a woman tries to report a rape she is usually outed as prude or called a liar that is begging for attention. Colleges make sure they’re putting up emergency lights and informing girls of the dangers, but barely discipline the boys that commit the crime. AAUW’s analysis reported under the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) that 89% of 11,000 colleges didn’t disclose the amount of reported rapes in the year of 2016. Colleges claim they are doing so much to stop sexual assault, but in reality they’re just doing the bare minimum. When I asked Chloe Shepherd how often a sexual assault report is taken seriously, she mentioned the reports during the ongoing pandemic. She said, “but i do wonder how many assaults are going unreported because students aren’t supposed to be partying but they are, so if someone got assaulted at a party, they might not want to report because they could be suspended.” Women probably feel trapped and hopeless because of the poor decisions they made to attend a party. The school would most likely breeze over the fact that they were assaulted, and go straight to suspension for partying during a pandemic.
Women have had to deal with these double standards for centuries. Fear that has been passed down generations and the stigma around being expressive is
shocking. It’s surprising to think about how some men are still living in the 50’s. It’s time we teach daughters to love themselves and be expressive no matter what. And teach sons to have some respect. Of course, it should go both ways. Men are sexually assaulted and it is just equally as bad. Teach kids to respect one another. Keeping them informed as they grow up is necessary. We need change and no one should stop until we achieve that. Women have limitations in their everyday lives that we would NEVER give men. Colleges are doing better, but are still extremely biased and toxic. Rape and sexual assault accusations aren’t taken seriously and white boys get a slap on the wrist for such terrible acts. Change must happen.